Before-and-After Kitchen Makeovers
Renovation ideas you’ll love.
A well-used and loved kitchen deserves our endless songs of praise. They are the center of our bustling households, and the setting for countless meals, crafts, projects, conversations, drinks, and happy memories. The goal: make them as stylish as they are functional. A well-designed kitchen is absolutely imperative, but the thought of a full-fledged kitchen remodel can seem overwhelming. We’ve collected our favorite kitchen remodel ideas, design tips, and professional secrets to help get you back into your kitchen and cooking in no time. Real-life homeowners share their budget-friendly kitchen cabinet updates, home decor experts share their creative design ideas, and architects share easy ways to make a small space seem larger without adding a single square foot. These kitchen renovation plans are practical, unique, and functional.
An Entertainer's Space: Before
When Nadie NeJame, a real estate agent in Washington, D.C., decided to update the one in her 1914 Foursquare Colonial, she knew exactly how to express her wishes to her interior designer, Christopher Patrick. “What I craved was something classic—nothing super trendy that would go out of style in 10 years. And I wanted white. If you can see the dirt, you know it’s time to clean it!”
An Entertainer's Space: After
A new island doubles as a buffet, and the statement paint coat on the base cabinets and walnut top make it the focal point of the room. Inspired by history, NeJame selected handmade glazed subway tile, marble countertops, and more traditional cabinet doors—Shaker style with bead detailing.
Right Size Remodel: Before
Previously, the kitchen lacked functionality. It’s a jutting island and awkwardly placed refrigerator simply made no sense.
Right Size Remodel: After
These homeowners reconfigured the kitchen, abandoning upper cabinets, lightening walls and floors with paint, and designing a refrigerator to mimic rich wood furniture. They also straightened out the island, creating a more functional space. A Viking range in a custom shade of blue—and surrounding lower cabinets in the same hue—added a bold pop of color, and takes this white kitchen from average to extraordinary.
Classic Kid-Friendly Kitchen: Before
Southern Living Editor Jessica Thuston’s family’s lackluster kitchen hadn’t been touched since the 1960s.
Classic Kid-Friendly Kitchen: After
Although she loved the size and basic layout, Jessica said that “everything else had to go.” She gave the room modern-day appeal by replacing the windows, relocating the fridge and surrounding it with floor-to-ceiling cabinets for a built-in look, and eliminating upper cabinets. She saved on custom-built cabinets by installing stock cabinets, and splurged on natural limestone counters for a luxe look.
Family-Friendly Kitchen: Before
When Susan and Jeff Johnson purchased their four-bedroom cottage in Nashville, Tennessee, they wanted to make it contemporary but still livable for their growing family. They teamed with designer Gen Sohr to create a stylish look with family-friendly functionality.
Family-Friendly Kitchen: After
By removing the wall with a pass-through window, Susan opened the room to the adjacent living area. The new kitchen is sunny, with glass-front doors to counter the lack of natural light. White custom cabinetry and quartz countertops looks similar to marble, without the high price tag or costly maintenance. A sturdy island has plenty of room for cooking, entertaining, and homework.
Family-Friendly Breakfast Area: Before
Before the renovation, this quaint breakfast room was actually the family’s den.
Family-Friendly Breakfast Area: After
Crisp white paint updated and refreshed the fireplace and bookshelves, and the dated mantel was replaced with a modern mirror. The blank canvas was opened with a graphic chevron rug and Roman shades made from an oversized, blue-and-white floral print.
Summer Rancher Kitchen: Before
Dated, dreary cabinets and a clunky, bulky refrigerator meant this space was in dire need of a redo.
Summer Rancher Kitchen: After
To avoid moving the entire room’s plumbing, this homeowner kept the kitchen's original footprint. Instead, he splurged on updating the cabinetry, appliances, and fixtures. Replace dated cabinets with easy-to-access open shelving and Shaker-style lower cabinets. Instead of a bulky refrigerator, he installed a two-drawer version in the wet bar area, just across from the kitchen, placing prominence on cocktails rather than dessert.
Cohesive Kitchen: Before
Shannon and Ted Holt were faced with a common dilemma: Their kitchen had good space and had been recently updated, but still, it just didn’t suit their style or tastes. The couple called on Birmingham designer Melanie Pounds, who suggested a few easy tweaks to make it a more cohesive, functional space for the family.
Cohesive Kitchen: After
Melanie updated the kitchen by removing the top cabinets and installing open limestone shelving. A metallic tile backsplash, modern pendant lights, a sculptural range hood, and some conversation-piece barstools complete the renovated kitchen’s look.
Cohesive Breakfast Room: Before
The original dining room had great natural light, but the arrangement was far too formal for the family's needs.
Cohesive Breakfast Room: After
The formal dining room was replaced by a more casual, inviting spot for everyday family meals. A series of freestanding closets with upholstered doors add a unique storage space; the center one opens to reveal a clever home office nook.
Let There be White: Before
Cindy and Thomas Gallion’s dark and dingy Alabama rancher was in great need of an enlightening experience.
Let There be White: After
The Gallions opened up the floor plan by taking down the two walls that defined the kitchen, opening up the kitchen to the living room and family room. They also replaced a window with cabinetry, and added a large, hardworking island for storage and function. Their most important improvement was coating the walls in a warm, white paint.
Charming Farmhouse Kitchen: Before
This cramped kitchen didn't work for Ashley Putnam and her husband, but they didn’t want to add additional square feet to their home’s overall floor plan.
Charming Farmhouse Kitchen: After
The homeowners demolished their mudroom to add 200 square feet to the kitchen. The kitchen was stripped down to its studs and rebuilt into a functional floor space. Against a backdrop of white shelves and stainless steel appliances, they added a butcher-block topped island to add warmth and soften the industrial edge.
Style Revamp: Before
“The old kitchen was a mess,” says Lindsey Ellis Beaty, who shares the space with her husband, Kevin, and their two boys, Walker and Beckett. “There was a large piece of plywood in the middle of the floor where an island had once been, the refrigerator floated on an empty wall, and the black tile countertops felt dingy.” After spending an entire year researching, compiling tear sheets, and planning the space, Lindsey devised a manageable renovation plan.
Style Revamp: After
After two years of living with a dreary kitchen in her otherwise sunny 1930s Birmingham home, it was finally time for Beatty to create the cheerful space she had always envisioned with soft neutrals and bold pops of color.
Sunny Breakfast Nook: Before
Before, the breakfast nook had plenty of light, but it lacked the warmth and comfort you’d want while enjoying a cozy cup of coffee.
Sunny Breakfast Nook: After
Suzanne transformed the nook into a cozy area with sturdy built-in benches that mimic the kitchen cabinetry and also add extra storage. To personalize the space, she placed slipcovered armchairs on one side of the metal bistro table, and draped colorful decor above the benches on the other.
Lightened-Up Kitchen: Before
This older home’s classic charm was lost in a kitchen hidden by dark walls and corners that didn’t let light flow.
Lightened-Up Kitchen: After
Designer Suzanne Kasler painted everything a serene white, and replaced the cabinetry. With Design Galleria’s Matthew Quinn, she conceptualized the floor-to-ceiling cabinets and a handsome island. Glass door fronts lighten the main wall. To add texture to her monochromatic color scheme, she installed white marble countertops, a white tile backsplash, and neutral barstools.
Raising the Roof: Before
When Bill and Jennifer Gilmer bought their circa-1928 Bethesda bungalow, its charm was long past and its shortcomings were undeniable. So they reframed the roof, and set out to work.
Raising the Roof: After
Jennifer, a Kitchen Designer by trade, used a few tricks of her own to blend the newly taller kitchen with the design of the adjoining living area. She chose an oversize hood above the cooktop for a bold statement, and chose a dining table that rolls underneath the built-in island for dinner parties.
Living Large in a Small Space: Before
Before, this kitchen was cramped, awkward, and completely cut off from the rest of the house.
Living Large in a Small Space: After
When remodeling, the homeowners had three goals: add as much storage as possible, create the illusion of space without adding a single square foot, and stick to the budget without sacrificing style. She created a galley, installed floor-to-ceiling cabinetry, and went with a simple, all-white look to make the space seem bigger.
Vintage Charm: Before
When she first bought her home, Steele Marcoux admits that the1920s Birmingham cottage was “blah.”
Vintage Charm: After
Marcoux painted most surfaces gray or white to upgrade outdated finishes, and added chinoiserie lamps found at a flea market for vintage décor. She mixed cherished hand-me-downs with modern appliances for a function and detailed kitchen.
The Modern Family Kitchen: Before
Lynn and Bobby Boland felt confined in their Missouri kitchen. They wanted a complete overhaul, but couldn’t add even an inch of square footage. Designer Amie Corley took on the challenge.
The Modern Family Kitchen: After
Corely knocked down a wall of awkward cabinetry to unite the kitchen, dining room, and living room to form one large, free-flowing area. She lifted the ceiling up to the roofline to let in more natural light, laid fresh flooring, and used bright paint colors to put a modern twist on the functional kitchen.
A Fresh Take on Tradition: Before
When Caroline and Andy Roeser purchased their Houston home, they had a vision. Their windowless galley kitchen’s cold dreariness did not fit their vision, so the couple wasted no time renovating it to become a sunny, open space.
A Fresh Take on Tradition: After
The Roesers made the transformation by creating a functional layout, adding windows for natural light, choosing timeless materials, and adding pops of color. Two large-scale lanterns in a verdigris finish add traditional polish while still freshening up the space.
Lake House Kitchen: Before
The tucked-away kitchen was too dark and outdated for Southern Living prop stylist, Heather Chadduck, but had good bones.
Lake House Kitchen: After
Heather brightened the space with a backsplash made of marble subway tiles, and installed a grid of dimmable light fixtures, creating versatile lighting for any occasion. To emphasize the gray tones in the floor, she chose durable, hand-poured, concrete countertops.
Stable Overhaul: Before
The existing 1980s-era kitchen was dark, awkwardly situated, and full of dated appliances.
Stable Overhaul: After
Charleston, SC interior designer Melissa Ervin removed the tile floor and replaced it with French antique oak. White painted cabinets topped with marble bring major class. A new range and custom hood flanked by cabinetry makes the once-empty center wall the new focal point of the room.
Historic Single House Kitchen: Before
The original kitchen in this historic Charleston home looked dark and dreary, and didn’t fit the home’s fresh decor.
Historic Single House Kitchen: After
The owners wanted their existing kitchen to look like it had been added onto the home in the 1920s. They chose shiplap walls, eliminated the upper cabinets, installed mahogany countertops, and unlacquered brass cabinet hardware and sink fixtures. They ripped up the 1950s floor and laid a new pine floor on the diagonal, sealed and primed it, then applied two coats of high-gloss gray paint.
Neutral Update: Before
The kitchen layout fit the family’s needs, but the color and accessories desperately needed an update.
Neutral Update: After
Keeping the existing cabinetry, interior designer Lindsey Meadows looked to give this cook space a fresh feel by changing the details. Soft gray paint coats the cabinets, making the kitchen’s palette match with the rest of the house’s. Lindsey replaced the stainless steel backsplash with darkly-grouted subway tile, and gave the existing barstools a face-lift with simple slipcovers made of durable fabric.
Neutral Update Breakfast Room: Before
This nook needed a complete overhaul, including completely getting rid of the dark furniture and bulky chandelier.
Neutral Update Breakfast Room: After
Creating a sunny nook from this dim room meant completely starting over. Birmingham interior designer, Lindsey Meadows, chose a glossy table that reflects light, and added a contemporary candelabrum. She surrounded the table with rustic chairs and an upholstered bench in shades of white with varying textures.
Updating the Outdated: Before
After a hurricane flooded architect Wayne Good’s 110-year-old Chesapeake Bay cottage, he seized the opportunity to design his dream fish-camp style kitchen in just over 150 square feet. Prior to renovation, the kitchen was on the opposite side of the room; Wayne moved it.